White Sox win first game of world champs
The New Zealand White Sox have opened the world women's softball championship with a 7-3 win over Mexico in a slugfest in Canada today.
Hutt Valley's Lara Andrews led the batting rampage with three of New Zealand's 13 safe hits in the opening game of the tournament at Whitehorse, Yukon.
Lead-off batter Krysta Hoani, who batted in two runs, pitcher-outfielder Taylor Paige-Stewart and Australia-based infielder Brook McManus had two safe hits each.
Shortstop Ellie Cooper hammered a triple and designated hitter Courtney Maihi slammed a two-base hit.
The White Sox left 11 runners on base but while coach Naomi Shaw would have been delighted at her team's batting display after a barren run at the Canada Cup tournament earlier this week, she would have been thrilled with the White Sox's flawless performance in the field. Mexico, by contrast, made four errors.
Hoani gave the White Sox a perfect start when she led off the top of the first inning with a safe hit and was batted in by Andrews, who plays college softball in the United States for the University of Delaware Blue Hens.
Mexico scored three runs and took five safe hits off Paige-Stewart, the White Sox's starting pitcher to lead 3-2 after three innings.
But the White Sox went ahead 4-3 in the top of the fourth frame when Maihi clouted a two-base hit and scored on McManus's single and Danica Ferriso, running for catcher Melanie Gettins, also scampered home.
New Zealand pitching coach Debbie Mygind made a vital change in the bottom of the fourth, bringing the experienced Michal Tangaroa on to the mound.
The daughter of Black Sox pitching legend Chubb Tangaroa shut out the Mexicans, taking seven strikeouts while conceding a solitary safe hit.
The White Sox clinched victory with a three-run spree in the top of the sixth inning when Hoani batted in McManus and Te Reo Powhiri Matautia before scoring herself when the Mexican catcher fumbled a throw at home plate.
New Zealand left three runners on base in the seventh with Matautia picking up a safe hit but Tangaroa kept her cool to strike out three Mexicans to win the game.
Coach Shaw has targeted Mexico, Great Britain, Italy and Chinese Taipei as the Section B teams the White Sox - who finished 12th, a record low, at the last world championships in Venezuela in 2010 - must beat to qualify for the top-eight playoffs.
The opening round win was vital for the Kiwis' cause because the White Sox play 2010 silver medallists and Beijing Olympic Games champions Japan at 1.30pm tomorrow.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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